Does Herzberg’s Motivation Theory Have staying Power – Strengths and Weaknesses of the Article

Literature Review

One of the strengths of the article is the basis of its arguments on a comprehensive and consistent review of literature. For instance, the authors present a review that identifies the historical background of motivational theories, culminating into the development of Herzberg’s two-factor theory, and its criticisms. Based on the criticisms such as the poor prediction of the actual job satisfaction by perceived job satisfaction (e.g. Hardin, 1965), and likelihood of ego-influenced biases in a recall methodology (e.g. Vroom, 1964 as cited by Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005, p. 933), the authors made various adjustments to the methodology. For instance, they modified the methodology used by Herzberg by using surveys instead of interviews and observable behaviour instead of emotions. Such changes reflect the basis of the article on relevant literature, which the authors also continue to employ in discussing their findings. Use of supporting literature throughout the article vouches for the credibility of the article’s propositions thus enhancing the application of its findings in advising practice.

Study Design

The strength of the study findings is limited by the use of a non-experimental study design, since the study does not entail a random assignment of research participants (Trochim, 2006). A research design that for instance allows random assignment of employees to motivator and movement factors, as identified by Herzberg’s original study, could, for instance, have presented a basis for evaluating the differences in how such factors influence employees motivation in the modern organisational contexts. However, such an approach would be limited in the sample size used as compared to the approach employed by the authors.

Sample

The sampling approach employed by the researchers also present another limitation of the study. The sample used is a convenience sample, thus depriving the study off the advantages of random sampling such as higher confidence for generalising the results from the sample. The targeted sample size was 5000, with a response rate of 64 per cent, a response rate above the minimum response rate that has been considered acceptable in other studies utilising similar data-collection approaches (Shih & Fan, 2009). Since the target population for the study is ambiguous, the assessment of the appropriateness of the target sample size is difficult. Otherwise, approaches such as the Cochran’s sample size formula could have enhanced the determination of the appropriate proportion of the population to which questionnaires should have been sent for a representative sample of the population data to be collected (Bartlett, Kotrlik & Higgins, 2001).

Data Collection Approaches

The data collection approach employed by Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005) provide another strength of the study. The study modifies its data collection approach to factor in the criticisms noted of Herzberg’s original research. In this respect, the authors use a survey instead of the interview, thus limiting the recall error that may arise as noted by Hardin (1965). One aspect facilitating the reduction of such a recall error was the use of closed-format questionnaires in collecting responses on the influence of leadership on the employees’ motivation. In this respect, the authors used likert statements to collect employee responses, thus limiting cases of irrelevant data as would be the case in open-approach interviews (Schuman & Presser, 1979). Additionally, the study uses observable behavior instead of emotions to reduce instances where ego-influenced biases may result in employees detailing their motivation aspects as observed by Vroom (1964 as cited by Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005, p. 933). However, such change does not eliminate the risk for observer bias, where the observer may record the existence of a behaviour that did not occur, in reality.

Data analysis and Results

The article employed descriptive analysis to assess the data retrieved from its sample. Such data analysis involved the dropping of the group the responses from the individuals who had not contributed any ideas, since the study had modelled motivation in terms of idea contribution. Accordingly, inclusion of non-contributors would have resulted into dilution of the results noted. By limiting its data analysis to descriptive statistics, the study’s findings do not present a perspective of the level of significance of such findings thus could limit their application. However, such an approach is in line with the study’s overall approach that aims at qualitative assessment rather than quantification of the results as evident from the study design.

In terms of results, the author’s present the results in a clear format, detailing the relationships observed with respect to variables identified. Additionally, the presentation of results notes of some of the factors identified by Herzberg, which could fall in different categories compared to the original categorisation. For instance, the authors present plausible arguments to support the placement of “a desire for recognition from the line manager”, as either a motivation or a movement, based on the perspective employed. For instance, when such a desire reflects in the person feeling good following a positive appraisal from the supervisor, then it would be a motivation since it is intrinsic. However, when such a desire is occasioned by the employees’ desire to enhance ones prospects for aspects such as promotion and/or pay rise, following such positive appraisal by the supervisor, then the desire would be a movement since it is driven by extrinsic factors. Go to part 3 here.

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